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(2nd LD) Over 30 virus cases traced to cram school in southwestern Seoul

National 20:21 November 20, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 2, 7-10)

SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- More than 30 people have been infected with the new coronavirus in cases tied to a Seoul cram school preparing students for a state-run teacher employment exam slated for this weekend, a district office said Friday.

Despite growing fears of contagion, the education ministry said that the exam will take place on Saturday as planned, though applicants infected with COVID-19 will be barred from taking it.

As of 2 p.m., at least 32 people tied to the private education institute in Noryangjin in southwestern Seoul tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Dongjak Ward office.

Two students at the institute were first confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 earlier this week and the others, including the institute's employees, tested positive later, the office said.

Noryangjin is home to a slew of cram schools designed to help people prepare for state tests to become public servants and teachers.

The district office asked 214 people who came in close contact with the patients to be placed under self-quarantine for monitoring. More cases could be reported as tests are still under way.

On Saturday, more than 60,230 people are set to take the exam at 110 sites across the country.

The education ministry said that applicants who have tested positive would be banned from taking the exam, while those, who have been in self quarantine, but tested negative, will be allowed to take it at designated sites.

"With quarantine rules to be thoroughly observed, the exam will proceed as planned," a ministry official said.

The ministry said it would swiftly share any information related to the new infection cluster in Noryangjin with exam takers and the Seoul education office.

Health authorities warned the greater Seoul area, home to half of the country's 51.6 million, is in the third wave of the coronavirus outbreak.

The country added 363 more COVID-19 cases Friday, including 320 local infections, raising the total to 30,017. It marked the third straight day that daily virus cases hovered above 300.

This file photo, taken Oct. 12, 2020, shows the district of cram schools in Noryangjin, southwestern Seoul. (Yonhap)


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